One Blue Dot - Sustainable Diets

On 20 November 2018, many months of in-depth work on sustainable diets came to fruition with the launch of the BDA’s One Blue Dot project, aiming to ensure that dietary guidance is synonymous with health and sustainable eating, for all groups and individuals.

Putting together the One Blue Dot programme

Development of OBD drew on learning gathered during insight work conducted earlier in 2018 amongst the BDA membership. A working group of dietitians supported by Tom Embury and Jo Lewis from the BDA head office team, collated and reviewed the latest evidence on environmentally sustainable and healthy eating patterns, drilling down to micronutrient level. 

How was One Blue Dot born?

One Blue Dot represents the fact that planet Earth is our home and that it is the only one we have and, ultimately, taking care of it lies squarely with each of us. It is well acknowledged that our current eating habits are having an adverse impact on the environment – we are endangering the future of our planet with how we feed ourselves.

Taking into consideration farming, production, distribution, delivery through to waste, our current food system has a major impact on the planet:

  • Food production contributes 15-30% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK and therefore contributes significantly to global warming.
  • Is a leading cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss and soil and water pollution.2 Q Accounts for 70% of all human water use.
  • 9.6 million tonnes of all food produced is spoiled or wasted in the UK every year with the majority (71%) occurring in the home. Some of this is avoidable and represents a waste of land, water and other inputs and produces ‘unnecessary’ GHG emissions.
  • Over-fishing and poor fishing practices have impacted on fishing stocks with 90% of fisheries now fully exploited or over-fished, the marine vertebrate population has been halved and the marine ecosystem has been damaged.
  • Livestock farming in particular is a significant contributor to GHG emissions, deforestation, biodiversity loss, soil pollution as well as land and water use.

Supported by project partner, the science and nutrition team at Alpro, we created the One Blue Dot reference guide and supporting toolkit, highlighting the urgency with which we need to change the way we eat not only for health but the survival of our planet. BDA Chair Caroline Bovey says “One Blue Dot helps dietitians act now to make the essential dietary changes needed to ensure the future security of the planet”.

Indispensable reference guide and resources

The reference guide, most recently updated in August 2020, is designed primarily for dietitians. Nonetheless the BDA hopes that other health professionals and influencers – and really everyone involved in food provision - will in some way find One Blue Dot a valuable and inspirational resource.

Polls show that where 50% of us are likely to consider dietary changes to reduce the impact on climate change, in reality, there are significant barriers to changing behaviour for the majority of people. One Blue Dot aims to tackle this problem. It provides both the latest evidence and a bank of practical resources, including, for example, menu swap suggestions of the nation’s favourite meals.

The BDA environmentally sustainable diets nine point plan includes:

  1. Reductions in red and processed meat, if eaten, to at most 70g per person per day (also recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund).
  2. Increasing plant proteins such as beans, nuts, soya and tofu.
  3. Only consuming fish from sustainable sources, and from a wider variety of species.
  4. Moderating dairy consumption and using fortified alternatives where needed.
  5. Focusing on wholegrain, starchy carbohydrate sources.
  6. Opting for seasonal, locally sourced vegetables/fruit. Avoiding air freighted, pre-packed and prepared vegetables/fruit.
  7. Reducing consumption of high fat, sugar, salt foods.
  8. Making tap water and unsweetened tea/coffee the choice for healthy hydration.
  9. Reducing food waste, especially of perishable fruit and veg by choosing tinned/frozen alongside seasonal fresh produce.

Each is covered in depth, from the point of view of both the effect on the planet and nutrition.

Dietitians can help lead the way

As working group member Ursula Arens brilliantly sums it up, “Eating healthy is for you; environmentally sustainable eating is for your children and their children.”

Dietitians are ‘perfectly placed’ to interpret the complex science and to communicate national and international guidance to help the public understand what they need to do to improve their own health and that of the planet. The toolkit will be a ‘live’ document, with regular updates and extra information as the science develops.

Your opinions matter

The BDA would love to hear your thoughts about the topic, the guide, the tools and any next steps you think the BDA should take. Please email the BDA Public Affairs team with any thoughts at [email protected].